Leading Valley Stream North by a touchdown and facing a fourth-and-1 at midfield with 1:37 remaining in last Saturday’s homecoming game, Malverne head coach Kito Lockwood was leaning toward sending out the punting unit with the idea of pinning the Spartans deep.
But the Mules’ offensive linemen — Tyler Zimmerman, Michael Salamone, James Hannafin, Kyle Richard and Kyle Young — had other plans. “They convinced me to go for it,” Lockwood said. “They knew it would be a tough yard, but they were confident we’d get it and then run out the clock.”
Senior quarterback Jamal Hill, who rushed for two touchdowns and passed for one, made good on the front line’s decision with a first-down run that sealed Malverne’s 20-13 victory and put it squarely in the Conference IV playoff picture with two games to play.
“This is our biggest win in years,” Lockwood said after the Mules triumphed for the third time in four weeks and evened their record at 3-3. “North is a very good and well-coached team,” he added. “We know they run the ball well and that we had to win the battle at the line of scrimmage.
“I’m so happy for our kids, especially the seniors to get a W on homecoming,” Lockwood continued. “It was old-school Malverne football.”
The outcome was disappointing for the Spartans (4-2), who saw their four-game winning streak snapped. “We’ve been finding ways to win the close ones, but not today,” VSN head coach Tom Schiavo said. “They beat us with some big plays. We made some mistakes we really hadn’t made all year and they were able to capitalize.”
North, which defeated East Rockaway, North Shore, Carle Place, and Island Trees, struck early when junior quarterback Joe Ruscillo hooked up with Pat McGreevy for a 36-yard touchdown on its opening possession. Isaiah Walsh’s extra point was the difference at the end of the quarter as the Spartans held a 7-6 lead following Hill’s 57-yard touchdown pass to Danny Williams.